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October 1, 2020
Any time your ads are hit with discrepancies, it’s usually because of mismatched data between the publisher and advertiser. But, unfortunately, the issue can run even deeper than that.
Measuring the number of impressions is more complicated than just using a formula to collect your data. It takes several different factors like website loading times, interaction by users, ad-blocking, and more.
Digital advertising offers many helpful tools to understand your website data, advertising campaigns, and anything else you publish online. Working with industry experts can help you make the most of what you’re producing. Proper utilization can help you succeed, but if you aren’t aware of potential missteps and lost data, you could be wasting your time and money!
Understanding what ad discrepancy is and how to reduce it will help you better understand your traffic data, how they’re performing on different platforms, and the steps you can take to reduce the risk of further issues. If you want to finally understand advertisement discrepancy, then this article is a must-read!
In advertising, as with any industry, discrepancies refer to the variance in data results between two parties. Most entities will have general data points that they want to monitor, but if they vary from their partners, the data won’t match up.
The difference in these reporting numbers used for crucial measurements, like impressions and clicks, is the basis for understanding discrepancies.
An ad discrepancy is the differences in your advertisement data analysis experiences between two parties. These discrepancies happen when you implement various tools and formulas and specific techniques to calculate your data.
The most common metrics advertisers and publishers refer to and measure are:
The ad industry’s two discrepancies are the ad tech vendors and the platforms, both sell-side and buy-side. And, when these two discrepancies combine, you could experience an even more complex issue.
You will generally experience ad discrepancy when the publisher and advertiser use different standards to calculate their ad delivery data and impressions. For example, if a publisher measures performance based on the number of ad requests made, but the advertiser monitors the number of ads delivered, their data won’t sync up.
Digital ad impressions are counted based on when and where your ad displays on web-based platforms. The impression tells your advertisers and site developers the number of times your target audience viewed your ad.
An ad impression is counted each time your advertisement shows up on a SERP (search engine results page) or any other site in the network. It’s important to work with trusted partners who can help measure true impressions, where ads were visibly seen versus false impressions, where the ad may have loaded, but wasn’t on the screen long enough for someone to have seen it, much less interacted with it.
When it comes to understanding ad discrepancy, the first step is understanding how it’s defined. But now, what are the root causes of ad discrepancy? These are the five more important things to know about this issue.
Loading times play a significant role in having an accurate impression count. If a user leaves the page while it’s loading or before the ads load, you won’t earn their impressions. Technically they didn’t see the ad, so the visit isn’t counted.
If the data is pulled in from different time zones or geographical locations, you can also experience similar issues.
When you have two or more parties involved in collecting analytics data, the risk of a discrepancy is greater. SSPs (supply-side platforms) and their ad networks work to provide value to the publisher, and as a result, they calculate their impressions differently than DSPs (demand-side platforms). The latter is only focused on delivering value to the advertiser.
The use of ad blocker software blocks both codes and URLs to stop ads from displaying on web pages. These cause major discrepancy issues because if the blocker prevents the display of your ads, they won’t appear on the browser. But the discrepancy happens because the publisher still sees the user as active and accessing the webpage where the ad exists.
Anytime a user opens a webpage, their browser cache saves the details of that webpage to their system. A cache buster ensures that when a user loads your page, it renders ads from the server, not the browser.
When you partner with a third-party platform, like Google Analytics, you’ll have easy access to user behavior data. However, it’s important to remember that both the publishers and the advertisers should use the same third-party platform to avoid or reduce the risk of a discrepancy.
When it comes to reducing your risk of encountering a discrepancy, start by investigating internally what types of metrics you’re using to measure ad performance, and then move outwards to align as many factors as you’re able.
Check and see if any cache buster software is enabled. If not, implement the proper coding to help you avoid holdups there. If you’re dealing with different vendors, advertisers, or agencies across different time zones or locations, identify a standard timezone you will all report in for accurate impressions.
Lastly, regularly run tests to ensure you have accurate data with reduced ad discrepancy. Also, periodically connect with all parties accessing the data to confirm that everyone uses the same metrics to measure performance.
It’s important to understand that Discrepancies are natural and reporting in your internal analytics program will probably not match reporting from your ad delivery systems. Even Google encounters this issue within its own platforms. Impressions and clicks reported in Google Ads are nearly always different than reporting in Google Analytics, even when you link the two accounts together.
At PunchDrunk Digital we usually don’t raise the flag on discrepancies until we reach the 20% or higher mark. That’s when the caution flag comes out and we start deep diving and looking for potential problems that are just standard issues as we discussed above.
If you’re unsure how to move forward or feel like you could use some additional expert advice, our team would be happy to help you create successful advertising campaigns. Contact us to learn more! You can also visit our blog at any time to stay up to date with changes in digital marketing and learn more about how you can improve your business!